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New Ontario drivers told to ‘show up ready’ as driving schools given green light to reopen

Click to play video: 'Ontario driving schools given green light to reopen' Ontario driving schools given green light to reopen
WATCH: Ontario's driving schools have been cleared to start operating again with a series of restrictions. Now, both students and schools are working to make up months of lost time. Aaron Streck reports – Jul 22, 2020

Ontario’s driving schools have been cleared to start operating again with a series of restrictions, and now, both students and schools are working to make up months of lost time.

Rod MacDonald should have already had his G2 test.

Instead, the 17-year-old is gearing up for his first driving lesson in four months.

“I’m here now trying to finish it up,” said MacDonald.

MacDonald had one session left and a test booked for April 2. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“All my friends have their licences, they’re all getting their cars and what not, I’m just still waiting to get my licence so, just missing out kind of feeling,” said MacDonald.

Read more: Durham Region driving schools await approval to reopen: ‘They’re going to be hurting’

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Wednesday’s in-car lesson was also John Stevenson’s first in months.

“I’m just happy to be back out here,” said Stevenson, an instructor with Oshawa Driving School.

Click to play video: 'Durham driving schools await approval to reopen' Durham driving schools await approval to reopen
Durham driving schools await approval to reopen – Jun 25, 2020

The long-time driving teacher says the last few days have been a scramble after the Ministry of Transportation gave driving schools across the province the green light on Friday without any notice.

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“This came so quickly on us,” Stevenson said. “It was like, here you go. Friday, you can go. Here’s your restrictions, here’s your regulations. Go ahead.”

When things shut down in March, Stevenson says it was one their busiest seasons and now the’yre trying to clear the backlog while taking on new clients.

“We actually have lists of students that were set up to come in and we’re talking probably at least 80 waiting to start, and now with social distancing and how many we can take at a time … we are going to be running extra classes,” said Stevenson.

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Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, is encouraging drivers to be prepared before booking a test.

“‘Show up ready’ is my message for every driver about to be examined in this province,” Patterson said.

Read more: Coronavirus cancels Durham Region Challenger Baseball season

He says the backlog at DriveTest Centres are also substantial and it’s not worth wasting an opportunity.

“There are about 150,000 driving tests backed up in the system right now that have to be rescheduled and reset,” said Patterson.

“I see too many people focused on getting in early, trying to get in fast. We don’t need people showing up who are not ready.”

The Ministry of Transportation says G2 tests are expected to start on Aug. 4 and G tests on Sept. 8. But if you’re worried about an expired or expiring license, MTO says there is a grace period and nobody will be punished because of scheduling delays.

As for Rod MacDonald, he’s booked in for Aug. 27 and after Wednesday’s refresher, he’s confident he’s ready.

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